The issue of funding the ongoing work of the Historical Enquiries Team, as well as its perceived independence, may be about to become a matter of political disagreement… As the BBC NI home affairs correspondent, Vincent Kearney, reports
Hundreds of families have co-operated with the team on the basis that it was acting independently.
Many families of people killed during the Troubles, including relatives of some RUC officers, did not want former police officers from Northern Ireland involved in the review of their case.
So, the HET has two special teams consisting exclusively of retired officers from other police forces to review those murders. They are also assigned to cases where there are allegations of security force collusion.
The team has also had financial independence – but that will change next month when the new financial year begins.
For the first six years of its existence, the HET received £34m from the Northern Ireland Office to carry out its work.
During the past two years, Stormont’s department of justice has provided £13m of funding.
The HET has now asked for an additional £10m from the department to continue its work for the next two years.
The BBC understands that the department refused the request. Instead, it asked the PSNI to fund the next two years of the team’s work, with that money coming from the police service’s financial reserves.
The request for funding for the next two years has been the subject of negotiations between the department and PSNI in recent months. [added emphasis]
Then again, it may not… After all, Sinn Féin have never co-operated with the HET’s investigations.